Fishing in the healing waters of the Umpqua – NRToday.com
Wearing a fly fishers vest and a baseball cap decorated with fly ties, Jim Moore cast a line in the Tyee area of the Umpqua River with hopes of catching a bass. He was one of about 20 veterans and volunteers who came out to a fly fishing event this weekend thanks to the Roseburg District Bureau of Land Management and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a national nonprofit meant to support those who have served in the military.
A Navy veteran and retired pastor, Moore got involved with PHWFF’s Vancouver-Portland chapter four years ago out of curiosity.
“I wanted to see what they were doing and it gave me a chance to fly fish and tie flies,” Moore said. “The camaraderie of the veterans is the main thing we have going for us, and fly fishing is just icing on the cake.”
He had never fly fished or tied a fly before joining the chapter, but now he makes it to every event he can. He enjoys telling stories and hearing from the other veterans, whom he called a great group of guys.
“It helps them to share with someone that can relate to what they’ve gone through,” Moore said. “I never saw action, but I can relate to it.”
The veterans stayed at the Eagleview Group Campground Thursday through Saturday, sharing barbecue dinners and telling fishing stories by the campfire.
Richard Miller of Roseburg is a veteran of both the Air Force and fly fishing, as he’s been reeling in fish for 30 years, but it was his first time in the Tyee area.
“It’s a very peaceful and nice place to be, and it’s a world-famous fishery too,” Miller said. “It gets you away from all the other stuff.”
He also values the camaraderie with the other men.
“Everybody has the same experiences,” he said. “It helps.”
The PHWFF Umpqua Program started about two years ago, when Jeff McEnroe, the program lead, and his fellow fish biologist of the Roseburg BLM, Scott Lightcap, were fishing together and talking about doing something to give back to active military service personnel and veterans.
One day, McEnroe met an Iraq combat veteran who was fly fishing along a river. The veteran told McEnroe he’d been through all sorts of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, but none of it worked. What did work, he said, was fly fishing.
McEnroe then reached out to Project Healing Waters and started the local program, which holds fly tying and casting classes and events.
“For some folks it’s incredibly effective, and to stand by the water and fish is therapeutic,” McEnroe said. He thanked the BLM for making this weekend’s event possible.
Josh Voynick, a former firefighter in Roseburg and a current metal artist, volunteers to row drift boats for Project Healing Waters events.
“I always thought it was an awesome program and I wanted to give back to the guys that work so hard to defend our freedom,” Voynick said. He said he loves being out on the beautiful Umpqua, helping the veterans enjoy something peaceful and fun.
“It’s hard to think of anything else while you’re out fishing,” Voynick added.
“The BLM is proud to partner with Project Healing Waters to help put on these events and help the veterans,” Cheyne Rossbach of the Roseburg BLM said. He added that many BLM retirees are involved with the program, including Jay Carlson, former district manager and an avid fly fisherman.
For more information or to get involved with Project Healing Waters, contact McEnroe at 541-537-0501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.